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How to Sew A Waistband


A waistband is a band around the waistline, often seen on skirts, trousers and shorts. The waistband supports the garment, keeps it in place and, for loose-fitting garments, keeps it from falling down. Waistbands can be wide or narrow, curved or straight, interfaced or not interfaced, or even elasticized! Waistbands can be cut in two pieces, one for the inner waistband and one for the outer waistband, or they can be cut as one piece that’s folded over along the top edge. Contoured waistbands have to be cut from two pieces because of the shaping at the waistline. This gives you an opportunity to use contrast fabric for the inner layer. Waistbands are cut with the grain line along the length, so the lengthwise grain goes around the waistline for the most stability.

Waistband on skirt (1)

Waistband on skirt

Waistband on skirt (2)

Waistband on skirt


A waistband is a great way to finish and stabilize the top edge of trousers, skirts and shorts. You need something to finish the top of the garment: either a waistband or a facing. If you have a pattern that has a facing, you can change it to a waistband and vice versa. Contour waistbands are great for garments that stop below the waist, as the curved shape fits the contours of the body. Straight waistbands are best for garments that sit at the natural waist or for men’s trousers where the body is fairly straight from waist to hip. With a zipper closure, sometimes the zipper will extend to the top of the waistband, and sometimes the zipper will stop below the waistband with a button, snap or hook closure to secure the band.

Tips + Notes

  • To reduce bulk on two-piece waistbands, especially on thick fabrics like denim or corduroy, cut the inner waistband from a flat cotton fabric.
  • If your waistband seems too small for the garment, the garment may have stretched during handling. Sew a row of easestitching (page link) along the waistline, and ease the garment into the waistband. Don’t be tempted to cut a wider waistband to fit the stretched waistline.
  • Binding (page link) is a nice way to finish the lower edge of the inner waistband, instead of turning it under. Bind the edge and don’t turn it under along the seam allowance. When you topstitch (page link) or stitch in the ditch (page link), it will be easy to catch the inner edge, as it will be left longer than the top waistband.


Interface (page link) the waistband. Prepare the garment so it’s ready to have the waistband attached: darts are sewn, side seams are sewn and the zipper or other closure is complete. Make sure the fold line of the waistband is marked, either with basting (page link) along the fold line or with ¼” (6mm) clips in the seam allowance at either end.

How to Sew A Waistband (1)

Match up the notches and pin the waistband to the garment. Sew the waistband to the garment. Trim (page link) seam allowances, and press them toward the waistband.

How to Sew A Waistband (2)

Fold the waistband along the fold line (or seam, for two-piece waistbands), with right sides together, and sew across the ends. If there is an extension on your waistband (there is in the example above), pivot and sew along the lower edge of the extension until you meet the stitch line of the waistband-to-garment seam. Doing so finishes the edge of the extension without any handsewing.

How to Sew A Waistband (3)

Trim corners and seam allowances, clip curves and turn the waistband right side out. Fold the waistband along the fold line, wrong sides together, and turn under the seam allowance on the inside edge of the waistband. Baste the inner edge in place. Some pattern instructions ask you to turn under the seam allowance before sewing the waistband in place, but I like to do it at this point so I can be sure it’s in line with the stitching.

How to Sew A Waistband (4)

To secure the inner edge of the waistband, you can choose to slipstitch (page link) or topstitch (page link). Slipstitching will be invisible, while topstitching will be visible from the right side of the garment. If you topstitch to close the waistband, continue the topstitching all around the top and sides of the waistband as well.

How to Sew A Waistband (5)

For a two-piece waistband, sew the inner waistband to the outer waistband along the top edge and down the short ends. Trim (page link) seam allowances, and press open. Understitch (page link) along the top edge as close to the corners as you can, so the inner waistband rolls to the inside, and press. Understitching is an especially good idea if you are using a contrast fabric for the inner layer, so it isn’t visible from the right side. Follow steps 1–4 to sew the waistband to the garment.

Tips + Notes

  • To change a waistband to a facing, follow the instructions in the facing section (page link). Fold out any darts or pleats from the waistline of the skirt. This will work for A-line skirts and slim skirts, but it won’t work well for full, gathered or pleated skirts. Very full skirts need the support of a waistband to keep them in place.
  • For an elastic waistband, follow the steps in the casing section (page link) for sewing a separate casing. Cut the waistband the same length as the garment, and use elastic or drawstring to pull it in and fit the waistline.

Source : The Sewtionary An A to Z Guide to 101 Sewing Techniques + Definitions
About the Author : Tasia ST. Germaine